Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language

Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language

Article excerpt

THE TIME of year is fast approaching when my husband suddenly has to put in an appearance at emergency surgeries, leaving me to do the last-minute and most crowd-plagued shopping. (Why do they make stores so hot when we go into them wearing outdoor clothes?)

It is also the time when people who don't usually go to church do, and are surprised, if they are lucky, by the strangeness of the language of the Authorised Version of the Bible. So I thought I'd treat you to some seasonal jollity from King James's committee of translators.

Old-fashioned vests are back in at Marks & Spencer. The AV would call them habergeons. When Exodus (xxviii 32) discusses how to make the robe of the ephod it specifies:

`And there shall be an hole in the top of it, in the midst thereof: it shall have a binding of woven work round about the hole of it, as it were the hole of an habergeon, that it be not rent.' Very sensible, or it would unravel.

And over here on the haberdashery counter, what do we find but mufflers? …

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